How does your working day start? Wake up at 6am, drive your car in angry rush hour traffic, or get on an overcrowded non-ventilated form of transport? Are you exhausted and fed up by the time you arrive at work? What about when you arrive at work? Does the layout of your desk give you neck ache, or does the chatting of your colleagues distract you?
The normal 9-5 Monday to Friday office-based routine is becoming less of a norm with the increasing popularity and opportunities for flexible working practices. Both employees and employers are starting to see the benefits that this style of working can bring. How can your company introduce flexible working and what are the benefits it may bring?
France – In 2014, a legally binding labour agreement was signed to ensure that employers can disconnect outside of the 35 hour working week. Affecting around 250,000 employees, they’ll no longer feel pressurised to look at work related materials on their computers and smartphones.*
Sweden – A city council is cutting staff’s working hours to six hours a day whilst keeping them on full pay. For one year they’ll test whether their performance has improved as the theory is that staff will take fewer sick days, feel better physically and mentally as after this period of time, employees become too tired anyway. **
How can you embrace this?
Get to know your employees – Speak to your employees and find out how they feel about the current working practices and what they feel would help them work more effectively. How do they feel about flexible working and would this be feasible for them? This could be speaking to them on a one to one basis or possibly conducting an anonymous survey. Get to know the dynamics of your workplace and how your employees work on a day to day basis
Use of third spaces for meetings – Whether you wish to reduce your working space or demolish all of it completely, there are times when you’ll want to get together with your employees, for social reasons or for company meetings. There is now a growing network of spaces which you can rent to work individually or for group meetings offering you more flexibility.
Plan for change – Look at how other companies have implemented this into their workplace and how they made it a success. Speak to like-minded people who may be having the same considerations. Create a plan to outline the changes to the office space, workload and working hours, and people management and lay out some basic rules.
Make use of technology – The advancement of technology makes flexible working possible and will aid the implementation of this into your company. Make sure your employees can carry on working efficiently and that their computers and phones are capable of doing so. Other technology you could use is online cloud storage so that all your employees can access work files at one time and Skype for meetings over the internet.
Save money on office space – The office or retail space is normally your biggest overhead and any way to be able to reduce this should help improve your cash flow. More often than not in medium sized offices, there may be empty desks or unused space. By offering flexible working, you won’t have as many people in at the same time and can make the most use of the space that is available.
More empowered and motivated workforce – Employees who are able to work flexibly or from home are normally more productive than those who are in the office every day. They are less distracted; less stressed and therefore possess increased loyalty as they’re grateful with the level of flexibility offered.
Increased staff retention and attractiveness to potential employees – Those employers that offer flexible working at recruitment stages have the advantage of attracting top talent. Employees would like this option of work life balance and could be a deal breaker on whether they accept the job. Retention of staff could also be higher, especially with employees that have been with the company a long time who may be having children and need flexible working arrangements to work around the school run.
Reduce levels of sickness and absenteeism – Depending on the nature of your company, employees may choose to work at night if they’re a night owl and this is when they’re most productive or choose to take a longer lunch break to run errands but start earlier in the morning. As they aren’t confined to the hours and location of when the working space is open, they’ll be less inclined to take time off as they can work around their own personal life.
* The Guardian
** The Independent
Experian. 2015 Embracing flexible working practices: http://www.experian.co.uk/blogs/latest-thinking/embracing-flexible-working/ Last accessed 14/12/2015